Author: Chris Conley, Go To Nations Short Term Missions Director
Summer is always an exciting time for The Short-Term Missions Department as our team is busy coordinating short-term mission opportunities in many countries around the world. Running from orphanage to orphanage, cutting out hundreds of crafts for Vacation Bible School, dashing to airports before the sun rises, praying for people with the assistance of translators, feeding hungry children, ministering in churches, laughing, crying, and loving become the life during these days. Short-term mission trips are amazing. Short-term mission trips really are for everyone. They challenge you and change you for the better.
For short-term missions to work and work well, they must be composed like a Great Song. What do I mean by that? I’m glad you asked! Think of your favorite song and what you like most about it. Maybe it's the lyrics, maybe it's the melody. Maybe it has a great hook - but a great song is not just one thing. It is the combination of everything you hear and feel blended together in a perfect melodic harmony. Upset the rhythm, change the lyrics, or alter the melody, and the song just does't work anymore.That is the same way a short-term mission must be. Like music, there are many factors that compose a great short-term mission.
The most important factor is the team itself. The team is the melody and it needs to flow with a certain rhythm. When the melody and rhythm are in place, everything else can more easily come together. Let's drill it down even further to the individuals on the team. Think of it as an orchestra, if one instrument gets off rhythm, the whole song is affected. The orchestra must work together as one. Sometimes working as one can be a challenge and it always takes some effort. Let’s first look at three things that can throw off the rhythm and sabotage the makings of a Great Song.
1) Complainers. Look, we know it’s hot. We are here too. We know the food is different. We ate as well (without complaining). We know the internet is 1997 level dial-up slow. I can’t watch the YouTube video either. Don’t complain about it. It won’t magically change it. Complaining makes it harder for everyone to feel the rhythm.
2) Rhythm is a game of follow the leader. We don’t always like to follow. We all have 687 questions. Just like you, we all want to ask “why”. To get our rhythm we need to follow the rhythm section. The leader is the rhythm section so just go with the rhythm. Asking 687 questions disrupts the flow.
3) You will be fed. You will be fed food that is good. If you don’t like it or can’t eat it, there will be something else available. Ten minutes after breakfast is never a good time to ask about what we're having for dinner (ask your mom about that). Don’t be that guy. When we worry about another part of the song before we get to it, we lose the rhythm.
Okay, so what about an awesome team member? Here are a three things that make a great team member with great rhythm that makes a Great Song.
1) They are a joiner. They join in the rhythm. They join right in the beginning and they join at the right time. They go with the flow of the rhythm. They do their part while also being aware of the different parts and components of the song that the others are playing.
2) They see the beauty in the other parts of the music. When you are in a different place, a different culture, with a different language, the rhythm might be a challenge. An awesome team member sees the beauty in that part of the song. They don't try to change it but rather flow with it and enjoy it.
3) They encourage others to hear the rhythm. They help others find it. They play in a way others want to join in. They make others want to be in the rhythm with them.
There you have it. A great start to a Great Song. It is the song of short-term missions that is a worship song played over the nations to God. This is the rhythm. This is the song. Come play with us.
Author: Chris and Sheila Conley have spent over 25 years serving the body of Christ through a variety of pastoral and equipping ministries. They, along with their four children, joined GTN in 2011 and moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Jacksonville, Florida to serve in the World Headquarters as the Director's of Short-Term Missions. When Chris isn’t taking Jesus to the nations, you can find him enjoying family time and all things Star Wars.